Dopamine Returned on Energy Invested (DREI)?

On a steamy Friday night my 10 year old son and I headed over to the rodeo grounds. It is only about a mile from our home and within the city limits, though on the eastern edge where the town merges into the valley landscape of pastures and tree-lined creeks and ditches.

As we approached, it was obvious that a large crowd had gathered. A long line extended from the ticket booth and the stands looked nearly full. Friends had tipped me off about what was going on only 10 minutes earlier, while thousands of others had obviously been looking forward to this event.

It was a truck and tractor pull.

On a hot summer night truck pull fans fill the stadium at the rodeo grounds in Willits, CA. Behind the dust is a weighted sled, called Terminator, that eventually forces the truck to stall. Truck pull images by Ree Slocum.

I place this sport in the same category as NASCAR, demolition derby, drag racing, and motor cross: An internal combustion engine of one sort or another propels a vehicle with a driver. Speed, power, agility, longevity or luck may sort among winners and losers. In this particular version, a weighted sled steadily increases the resistance the further it travels. Vehicles pull until they stop, usually in an engine stall and a cloud of dust.

Because Willits is a relatively small town, anonymity is not possible once you become involved in community affairs. I am on the board of a couple of non-profits related to energy and sustainability, have a radio show on a local station, two kids in the school system, and run a small farm that serves local customers. I brought attention to the subject of peak oil in October of 2005 by showing the film The End of Suburbia every other week for about a year.

I offer this background because people who know me would likely surmise (correctly) that if I were “supreme ruler” nothing like this would ever happen.

I asked a city councilor in attendance (the same person who alerted me to its occurrence) if this event is in conflict with the City’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 90% below 2005 levels by 2050, a goal I had a hand in developing? The City of Willits and a who’s who of community organizations also signed a sustainability vision statement I wrote. Was this part of that vision? She just smiled and remarked that energy isn’t expensive enough yet.

I was recognized by a member of the Frontier Day’s Committee, which are the folks who run the rodeo grounds. He sided up to me to verbalize how he saw the equations balancing out with respect to the spectacle. “Using a lot of fuel, aren’t they?” He spoke directly into my ear to compensate for the cylinder blasts. “But you know, this is a big crowd and it really helps us cover the cost of our lease. It’s the first time we’ve done this.” I simply smiled and gave a nod.

The crowd was big. Ten times bigger, in fact, than any I had been able to attract with notions of peak oil, economic collapse, relocalization, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, or a host of other hot topics. What should I make of that?

My son shouted out a running commentary that reflected my own mixed emotions. As the announcer explained in testosterone-laden tones, the turbo diesels spent about a minute “Building their Boost!” before releasing the clutch. During this process, black soot emerged from pairs of thick chrome pipes to neck craning heights, which served to tense the crowd. On several such occasions my son looked up at me to say, “They’re polluting the Earth!” And yet, perhaps ten seconds later as the truck stalled some 300 ft down the dirt track we whooped excitedly with everybody else.

Our brains were being whip lashed by dueling neurotransmitters. The neocortex was giving us one signal, namely “Polluting Earth Bad,” while the limbic system was giving us countervailing signals, specifically “THIS IS SO COOL!” In fact, that is the other phrase my son used often that night. So on a cycle that repeated every several minutes, I would pump my fists and shout “YEAH!”, but as the rush of dopamine waned, nagging concerns regarding the energy expenditure would re-emerge. Sometimes the motions of a really fine vehicle, such as the ones propelled by jet engines, would keep me “amped” even while the track was being prepared between runs by rumbling dozers, rollers, and the periodic water truck. (I am not going to delve into the neurophysiology and evolution of the brain in this post. Please see this one instead.)

I found myself drawn to the particular form of White Lightening. It wasn't of the largest class of trucks, and the length of its pull disappointed somewhat, but the elegance of its lines and the beauty of its exhaust flames can't be denied.

It wasn’t only the fuel injection on a 2000 hp engine going full tilt for 10 seconds that bothered me, but the knowledge that these beasts were coming from all over the state. The names of the vehicles I remember include White Lightning, Semper Fi and Get it Done (which ended up being the big winner, pulling the Terminator sled over 350 ft, dragging it out of bounds and finishing in a perilous side-ways slide). The geographic names included San Luis Obispo, Red Bluff and Bakersfield. And my son and I constituted the majority of the subpopulation that made it to the rodeo grounds via the most energy efficient transportation device every made—the humble bike running at less than one horsepower and burning non-fossil carbohydrate fuels.

I don’t want anybody to get the impression that I judge the people who regularly attend diversions such as the truck pull much differently than my own cohort. The following is a list of low Dopamine Returned on Energy Invested (DREI) activities undertaken by friends and family. These are people who I have personally addressed on the subjects dear to readers of The Oil Drum, and some of them even help me try to “save” civilization, the planet, and other important stuff.

• Fly to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soleil. This is remarkably common and not limited to any one individual. The most recent “must see show” was The Beatles Love, and I admit it looks awfully tempting!

Although I have not seen the performance, I gather from this image that I would be pleasured by it.

• Spend a week on a Cajun Dance Cruise ship. My wife and I are invited to this one yearly, and it is especially difficult to pass up.

• Ski in the Rockies. Ski in the Sierras, etc.

• Vacations in Europe, Asia, etc.

I haven’t done any carbon footprint analysis to compare the truck pull to the diversions more in line with my own tastes and those of my peers. Obviously they all use gargantuan amounts of energy.

I am a firm believer in the notion that the one-time endowment of Earthly oil should be viewed as a precious gift, and that if any of it needs to be used to it should be allocated towards deploying the technology and infrastructure that would lower our ecological footprint enough not to despoil our home. Anytime I see gallons of fossil fuels being burned I realize that the btus released are enormous, dwarfing the potential power output of human bodies or domesticated animals. Without a renewable energy infrastructure in place before depletion of oil sets in, I fear social convulsions of the worst sort. For example, if we lose our energy slaves will we somehow justify human ones again?

And yet we burn it up so frivolously. This final quote from my son summarizes the situation aptly: "Dad, this is so crazy!"

Nate Hagens and I discussed this topic as part of one of our radio interviews. On that program Nate recommended trying to discover diversions that use little energy, in other words, have a high DREI. I doubt most of the crowd at the truck pull had listened to any of my shows. But even among those of us “in the know,” a challenge we face is dealing with the addictive aspects of energy intensive activities.

On the way back home I met John Jeavons and related my recent experiences. He commented on a time in Mexico, where he was teaching GROW BIOINTENSIVE farming in a workshop. It was in a port city and one day an impressively enormous cruise ship loomed over the docks, its thousands of passengers disgorging into the streets and tourist shops. He thought about the amount the urine and feces produced each day on a ship like that, how much food could be grown with it, and knowing that the mineral wealth of the modern food system and the resulting effluent came from mines and natural gas wells that were low entropy geological riches scooped up using machines running on oil…and yet it was all being dispersed into the ocean.

We like to share stories on Campfire. So I’d like to hear from you about the following:

1. Have you been able to move away from low DREI habits and replace them with high DREI ones?
2. What experiences have you had like mine and John Jeavons’, being simultaneously awed and disgusted by the excesses of our world?
3. Why should I deprive myself of the great hedonistic pleasures of the age of oil if I can still afford them since very few others willingly curtail?
4. Is information sufficient to change behavior, and if not, what does?
5. I recognized very few faces at the truck pull, even though I live in a small town. What does this say about the cultural diversity of society and does that diversity make it more or less challenging to adapt to change?

Story Update: Coverage of the event in The Willits News is now available.

I also examine our family and community events with a similar eye to "how sustainable is this?"

Upon proposing to my (now) wife in the early 90s, I promised her that she and our prospective children could fly back to Seattle 1-2 times per year to visit with her family. We do this every August and every other Christmas to uphold my promise, though she's aware that the time will come that such trips will be much less frequent (and may eventually cease). During the August vacation, most of the in-laws spend considerable time water skiing, after hauling the boat 100s of miles (and over one range of mountains) with a vehicle specifically purchased to have lots of boat-hauling power. I politely refrain from the sport, after many episodes of arm-twisting to get me ski (and one daughter has chosen to refrain as well, though the other is an avid advocate).

One teachable moment occurred when someone asked how far my 2000 Honda Insight could travel on the 35 gallons of gas used in a particularly active day of skiing and lake touring. I responded, "from Washington DC to Seattle", which caught some people by surprise; the contemplative looks lasted more than a few seconds... and then I mentioned that it could amount to 7000 passenger-miles in my 12 person vanpool, followed by more reflective sinking-in. But eventually the conversation shifted to some other topic, and everyone went back to 'normal' in their energy consumption patterns.

There are other struggles too, when the wife suggests that we go visit friends by car who are hundreds or even thousands of miles away because "we haven't seen them in a while" and her email chats with them invariably end with "we simply MUST get together soon".

The family car is a Prius, but I'm acutely aware of extra miles that could be induced by "it's more efficient, so we can go more places". She's aware of Peak Oil, though doesn't want it to interfere with 'normal' travel habits as long as it is affordable.

I would really like to see someone post an analysis on the psychology of a woman's mind versus a man's concerning issues of conservation, recycling and peak-oil. I know that I'm constantly hauling things out of the trash and holding it up to the spouse as if I've bagged a trophy and exclaiming "Dear, this goes in the recycling!".

So would I. I have no end of trouble explaining to him what is rubbish and what is recyclable. The nearest he gets to recycling is bringing home junk that we'll never use but have to make space to store. Just as soon as you get this psychology analysis written up, please post it here along with any recs about implementation.

Susan Sundowner

"Dear, this goes in the recycling!".

In my house, I get in trouble for throughing out plastic stuff "it could get recycled", my wife gets in trouble with me for wasting energy. It seems I'm the one that recognizes the value of energy, and she see's only direct material waste.

“But you know, this is a big crowd and it really helps us cover the cost of our lease. It’s the first time we’ve done this.”

Well, on the bright side, all of the spectators cars were parked for the duration of the event.

It seems almost certain that the largest component of the energy consumed by this event was the petrol burnt in the cars and trucks of the audience driving to this site.

This is almost certainly true even of events like Nascar or formula one racing or even flying displays. As for low Dopamine return in energy invested, probably the worst culprit is hot air ballooning. This consumes huge amounts of natural gas, and is an extremely inefficient form of travel, not least because the destination is almost random! That said, seeing a couple of hundred balloons in the sky at once is quite a
quite a sight.

The main objection to these events is the promotion of conspicuous consumption of energy as something to celebrate. It overtly encourages people to buy and drive unnecessarily large and powerful vehicles.

Probably the best DROEI events would be a lower league soccer 'derby' match in a large city in Europe. Most of the audience would be local and could attend by public transport.

Jason -

For all of the visually obvious excess of such an event, I strongly suspect that the amount of fuel consumed by the small number of highly specialized vehicles actually competing is but a small fraction of the fuel consumed by the many spectators in traveling to and from the event. This I think is true of all motor sports.

As such, then from a purely energy standpoint it hardly matters that the event was a truck pull or say some sort of 'green' technology fair. If the number of attendees are the same in both cases, then the amount of fuel consumed will also likely be the same. The obvious difference is that one event is outrageously non-PC and attended mostly by people who are ignorant or indifferent about energy and the environment, while the other event is highly 'correct' and attended by people who consider themselves enlightened and ideologically pure. But it doesn't really make much difference where the rubber meets the road (so to speak).

Now, here's a silly little hypothetical for you: Let's say that 1,000 people attend the truck pull but they all drive Toyota Prius's to get there, while the 1,000 people attending the green technology fair drive a mix SUVs and pick-ups to get there. Which event would you rather have? I suspect that many here at TOD would choose the latter, because even though the attendees are actually using more fuel, at least they are thinking right. That is what I would call ideologically-driven thinking.

Appearances can tell one a lot but not everything. I happen to know of a hard-core hot-rodder who has this outrageously brutal machine that probably gets about 7 mpg if he drives it nice. ( But what's the point of having such a car if you have to drive it 'nice'?) At first appearance one might say that he's being irresponsible and wasteful, but if one looks more closely, one would see that he drives the hot rod about 500 miles per year max, while using a Honda Civic for all his 'real' driving. So, his total annual personal vehicle fuel consumption is probably far better than the national average.

Such hobbies/spectator sports will obviously have to come to an end some day,but the sport itself is not the problem. It's getting the spectators to the track that REALLY burns up some energy.

Forty cars on the track at a Nascar event may burn very roughly anywhere from three thousand to ten thousand gallons of gas,depending on the length of the race,etc.The trucks used to haul the cars around probably use another five to ten thousand gallons,average,as some tracks are much closer together than others.Now when forty trucks go to the west coast from Charlotte,the "hub" of Nascar,that trip really burns up some diesel!

A quick glance at the parking lots at a place like Charlotte Motor Speedway (now Lowes MS,I think) and the license plates on the cars is enough to understand this point.I would guess that maybe fifteen thousand vehicles at least are driven to the Charlotte races,many from hundreds of miles away.Unless you are in reasonably good health the walk from the farther parking lots is a hike not to be undertaken lightly on a hot day.

And of course while I'm composin'and typin'w/ one finger four people beat me to the punch!

Speaking as a former gearhead(retired fan who only listens on the radio sometimes nowadays) I wish to point out that football,baseball,basket ball and all other big league spectator sports are not noticeably less fuel intensive than motor sports.

The authors are absiolutely right about the spectacle of motor racing-there is something about it that grabs you viscerally,takes you for one hell of an adrenalin ride,and leaves you limp afterward.

Just about every redblooded gun totin lightnin drinkin Baptist church goin commie hatin southern male young enough to have plenty of testerone circulating would gladly cut a deal with the devil to drive a race car professionally.Quite a few die playing the game as amatuers on public roads.

As a semi-retired motorports fan myself (motorcycle road racing), I can also understand the appeal of powerful machinery. It's both the competitive urge fueled by testosterone and the Zen-like state of mastering a skill, often called Flow.

I am amazed at the enthusiasm for sitting on what amounts to a version of a power lawnmower, souped up, for "recreation". Honest to goodness, I just don't get it. I'm probably just too old and I don't understand. No, that's not it. I do understand. The youngsters here in the county will save all of their summertime money, just to have the down payment on a used Dodge Ram Diesel complete with a "lift kit" and over sized knobby tires to the tune of $250 per tire. So, they step out of the High School Graduation Line with a brand new $700 per month truck payment. That's nuts. Testosterone, what are they talking about? Sitting in, or on, a large horsepower vehicle of some kind, four wheels or two, with your foot on the accelerator, and that gives some folks a rush? They must be everyday sissies, in my humble opinion, if that is all it takes to give them a thrill. The Dentists and Lawyer Gangs come through here all through the summer months on their Harley Davidsons. It's like Halloween, all in their version of a "Biker" outfit. Most are what I've dubbed "BOFF's". Some have their "Old Ladies" on the back, "BOFW's", who are doing their best to look hard, like they just won the cucumber contest. Scooter Trash just isn't what it used to be.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so grudging of those who don't know what real excitement is and have to find their manly thrills sitting in front of the TV, with a 18 pack of beer and a bag of Cheetos, or in person from the grandstands, with a tight grip on their hot dog with mustard, watching the football, basketball, or hockey game, or whatever; almost forgot, NASCAR. Their pantywaists. There, I've made some outrageous generalizations that ought to offend just about everyone. If you're one of those offended, then, for God's Sake, go climb a big mountain, one you can die on, run with the Bulls, take up Hang Gliding, get in a little boat on a big river. There are still legitimate and real rites of passage out there, even for the old guys. Sitting on a souped up, fire belching, lawnmower isn't one of them. Best from the Fremont

You're not drawing the distinction between competitors and spectators. Spectating is a passive activity; competing in sports takes skill and hard work. I can't personally comment on the skill and work involved in truck and tractor pulls, but in other motorsports it's considerable. Recreation falls somewhere in between, but usually it's closer to passive spectating. In your examples, the trucks and bikes are status symbols for display. It's a stretch to even call them recreation.


Absolutely correct and thank you for pointing out, there is a great difference between the passive observer and the practitioner. I do not doubt the skill of the motocross rider, the NASCAR pilot, or the quarterback. The line blurs with some examples, as per the Dentist dressed up in his leathers on the Harley. I think he/she is as much an observer as a practitioner, maybe more of an observer. They ride in groups, visual impact is important, and seem to always be ready for a group camera shot of the outlaws, as look at me, leather everywhere, and this weekend, I'm BAD. I see them regularly up at the Texaco, gassing up for the next leg, across the Hogs Back. Their poses are practiced. I guess my real beef is with the gasoline engine, or engines of any kind (maybe the definition of a Luddite?). For the life of me, I don't understand the fascination. Personally, I'd rather walk, ride a bike, roll down the hill (in a barrel), or just fall off of the cliff. I think that maybe, as a culture, we've all seen too many editions of Smokey and the Bandit, Dukes of Hazard, or for the more recent arrivals, the Transformer cartoons/movies. I'll take Superman, he flew around on his own steam.

Best from the Fremont

All ICE vehicles are absurd, bizarre and obscenely wasteful. At least these kids are getting some thrill out of the amazing power the miracle substance oil provides. Most of us get into vehicles with the power of dozens, scores...of horses and proceed to be bored to tears by our daily commutes.

What would people from two hundred short years ago if an individual drove around in a carriage pulled by scores of horses? It would surely be seen as beyond bizarre. Yet most do the equivalent every day with no sense of wonder or strangeness.

The absurdity and obscenity of our daily lives are completely lost on pretty much everyone.

The absurdity and obscenity of our daily lives are completely lost on pretty much everyone.

Better be careful. Once your eyes become opened to the absurdity and obscenity of it all, your perspective turns you into an outcast.

I cast myself out of the mainstream fairly forcefully long, long ago. One of the joys of a forum like this is bumping into others who have some glimmering of the insanity we live every day.

Yup....It's a waste of time and energy...As in much the same way that the whole website The Oil Drum is a waste of time and energy...Here you just have a bunch of eggheads who write posts back and forth to convince themselves how brilliant, principled, savy or just plain "green" and try to one-up each other...Brother, do you think this site actually does anything?...I will agree it's entertaining, but that is about it...Just a certain folks are entertained by motor sports...Let's sum up shall we?...One day the world will have insufficient oil, a substitute will emerge and life will go on...Feel better now???

Don't undervalue entertainment. I haven't heard egghead in many a moon.

Glad you like it...I'm an old and cranky fossil...We remember such terms...LOL

Hello Aviator202,

I respectfully Disagree. TOD,EB,LATOC,DIEOFF, and other websites, plus books, plus orgs like ASPO and Transition Towns, etc, are having a decided, but gradual viral effect upon the populace. Please go back through the archives to see how much Cornucopianism has diminished, both in the TOD postings, and also in the MSM.

I hope you are doing your part to spread Peak Outreach, too:

Do you do the Yeasty half-glass Peakoil Shoutout in public?
Do you leave Peak Outreach cards in lots of places?
Have you emailed Google asking for the "I'm Feeling Unlucky" button on their Search Homepage?
Have you emailed Tiger Woods website asking for him to plow defunct golf courses?
Have you emailed your elected officials? and so on...

Please don't forget that TOD now has a global reach and many govt & corp orgs study what is happening here. Recall the response from SS, F_F, Euan, and many others work on Ghawar.

Thanks for your respect...Although if I hear the word "viral" again I may scream...I know this, the 4% of the population that owns everything likes it just like it is....that's where their fortunes come from...I despair of grass roots movements...Haven't seen one in the U.S. even slightly effective in over 30 years...Now France, there's a different story...Sadly, I believe there is a reason the U.S. is armed to the teeth...I read somewhere our military has as much firepower as the next 200 largest countries combined...Now why is that???....I think I know...

The conclusion you reached is the perfect justification for having The Oil Drum.

If you're right about it, then we're all lucky. If you're wrong, how long can you tread water?

This site is useless just like those Libraries and Universities.. just a bunch of people gathering to talk, write, think and compare notes. Let's just boil it down to a hasty soundbite and be done with it.

Maybe yes, maybe no...Well, this site is interactive and current, unlike Matt Simmons book...copyright 2004...and he probably worked on it for a few years so the info there is going on 7 years most libraries...I just think the Oil Drum is a bunch of bright folks doing a LOT of talking....But I think VERY little action comes of it...Shakespeare said something about sound and fury signifying nothing...That is my point...

If you've been reading a substantial amount of the Oil Drum, you'd have caught several glimpses of the actions that countless posters here are undertaking, while the two facets of the issue (talk/action) seem to run parallel.. ie, my actions are not necessarily a result of this discussion.. but this discussion certainly lets me know that I'm not the only one who has been grinding on the topic.

It's not just to break some kind of isolation, either. If I'm getting the sense that we're on increasingly shaky ground, my desire to leap has to be informed by the need to look.. it's a complex situation, and this is one (the one) place where I feel I can get a bit of a vantage-point.. AND it's one of very few places where I've found, in today's political climate, a conversation that manages to allow people from a range of backgrounds and differing ideas to keep an adult conversation going about it. It does get childish sometimes, and I've been drawn in to it too.. but generally it stays enough above the adolescent level that I can go in without waders. I think that alone Signifies something.

..and there's a lot to be learned from old books. You just have to remember what that is, and what it is not.

Thanks for the thoughts,

Aviator, how could you possibly know what's going on in the countless places on Earth people are viewing this site? Yes, it's obvious there is a lot of discussion here but beyond that everything you assert is just a feeling you have. There are plenty of posters here who are very, very engaged and I can't stress enough how what I've learned here goes into what I'm doing in the physical world.

Aviator202 wrote;

"One day the world will have insufficient oil, a substitute will emerge and life will go on...Feel better now???"

Aviator, this is typical of the first stage of grief. There is;

- Denial ("There must be a substitute that will keep our lifestyle going [You Are Here])
- Anger ("How could they let that happen?")
- Bargaining ("Maybe it won't be so bad? Maybe everyone will magically use much less energy?")
- Depression ("Oh, how will I ever be able to survive on a 1920's energy budget?")
- Acceptance ("Well, no use crying over spilled milk")

Do you have any idea what will replace the amount of energy at the level of oil production we currently produce? Do you have an engineering degree so that you can at least talk to the scale and EROEI of what would be required to do so?

Optimism can be underrated, though it can also become a blinder (or a crutch).

"if I hear the word "viral" again I may scream"

Let it all out, you'll feel a lot better...

All ICE vehicles are absurd, bizarre and obscenely wasteful.

Really? Roto tillers, trucks to move produce to market, ambulances, fire trucks - all obscene?

Good points. I was being a bit sweeping. I was thinking primarily of commuter cars.

I'm sure produce trucks, ambulances...could also be made to be more energy efficient than most are built now. But mostly I think one of the strongest arguments for rationing gas as we head into decline is so that there is enough for these vital functions for as long as possible. Also, though I am generally quite skeptical about biofuels, limited development for just these functions does seem prudent (but unlikely).

As for rototillers, I'm more of a no-till guy myself, but I know they can be quite useful in some situations where you have compact soil and no way to ship in lots of compost for raised beds....

I think the title of this threat pretty much captures the essence. My guess is that pre FF humanity engaged in other, though similar (from a dopamine-release point of view) behavior - perhaps race horses until they dropped...

Well I'm fully with you, but I can see where the addiction comes from. A few years back I was teaching my son how to drive, we were in the Sierra's and I took an unplowed snowcovered road. After letting him play with slipping around, in both 2wd and 4wd, I took her (4wd Tundra) for a small ride. Nothing like the awesome power of 240hourses, in compound low (5mph or so max). It really was an adrenaline rush. So I can see how someone could easily get hooked.

Then I know about dangerous stuff. I used to be a rock climber in my younger days. Now, I was always real conservative about safety etc, but there always is the climb that you just know is too darned easy to bother with a rope -and then a couple hundred feet up you discover -it isn't easy at all -and you are commited! Long story short, you get into this awesome mental zone, and it feels so good to make it (and to have performed so incredibly well doing it). Well I can see how if you weren't careful, you'd seek out those experiences whenever you could.

'Well I can see how if you weren't careful, you'd seek out those experiences whenever you could.'

or.. 'Adventure is just bad planning' Amundsen

"May you live in exciting times" -- ancient Chinese proverb / curse.

It's funny - things like NASCAR just don't light me up. My wife is a big fan however, but to me it is just a bunch of cars driving in a circle for hours. I joke with her that I would be a horrible driver - I would fall asleep from boredom, but I guess that's because in part the whole sport seems completely pointless so I wouldn't really care where I finished (or even if I finished).

For some reason I don't really like really loud noises. Sometimes (like when using power tools) it is sort of unavoidable, but the sound of the cars on TV puts me on edge like I was at the dentist's office for something. After 3 hours of such abuse I would be in a horribly foul mood. My wife keeps threatening to drag me to a track somewhere for a race, and I keep telling her to save her money and go with her sister (who is also a fan).

I get back at her a little bit when I watch bicycle racing on TV. For some reason she thinks that is boring, but at least it is generally a quiet sport.

..the whole sport seems completely pointless..

Sports are pointless period. What difference does it make whether or not someone throws a ball thru a hoop or kicks it between two posts or whatever? Who cares which car goes around the track fastest or which truck can pull the most weight? People get all caught up in the most stupid shit I guess because people are just generally stupid. The entire sports industry should just die out from lack of interest. It would sure save a lot of energy if people just quit paying attention.

I could have made that argument too, but I didn't want to push it that far. Ultimately I think part of the problem is that we have been conditioned to constantly seek entertainment. Be it web surfing, watching TV, overeating, or buying crap. Adrenaline sports are really just a subset of all of this. I know there have been stories here about how this will be one of the aspects of the trip down that will be hardest on people - giving up all of these external stimuli.

This isn't to say that all forms of entertainment are bad of course - like with a lot of things when done in moderation it provides a healthy release. Many sports were invented back when people didn't have TVs, so the choices they had for entertainment were far more limited, and could in fact be part of the glue that can hold a small community together (for example, in a small town you might have the high school baseball team playing another school).

When I lived on Long Island I would meet my friend & her daughter from upstate NY and we'd attend the Bridgewater Fair in Bridgewater, CT. My favorite thing at the fair was the oxen pull contest. Those big muscular animals impressed me much more pulling weights on a sled than any truck or tractor ever could. But my friend's daughter was totally bored watching the oxen pull. She couldn't wait to get to the rides, to have some "fun." To my mind, the rides were a ridiculous waste of $$ & energy but I had to indulge the kid. Fun, rides, "adrenaline sports", "external stimuli" of these sorts, are vastly overrated. In fact, such things are worse than pointless, they are actively insidious in that they tend to inculcate a competitive, us vs. them mentality in children. Team loyalty transfers to brand loyalty to belligerent nationalism. The social cohesion provided to a small community by the school baseball team, as in your example, may play hell on the sensibilities of academically inclined kids with no interest in or talent for sports. The entire sports industry is something we would all be a whole lot better off without.

The idea of overrated pleasures reminded my of the great old classic. Unfortunately I couldn't find it sung by any of the great old singers.

"In this world
of overrated pleasures
and underrated treasures
I'm glad there's you..."

The energetic sport of the future? I hope it is Human tractor-pulls with geared railbikes on SpiderWeb tracks; to see who can move the most O-NPK up a grade. Otherwise, the default 'sport' for all will be the Tlameme Scheme:

I also hope the chief knowledge competition will be to see who can be the Rock Star of Corn, or tomatoes, or wheat,..and so on:
304-bushel corn — in 1955?

He was the Rock Star of Corn.

..A state record corn yield of 179 bushels in 1950 for his first 4-H project, when he was just 10-1/2 years old...

..“I broke it deep, rowed it up in 28-inch rows, subsoiled, and used 30 wagonloads of barnyard manure, 1,200 pounds of Vigoro fertilizer, 1,000 pounds of soda, and planted Dixie 17, thinned to 12 inches, cultivated once.”

..“I made the crop with our eight-year-old mule, Dolly.

..I’d get up in the middle of the night, go down there with a shovel and a coal oil lantern, wading barefooted in mud ankle deep, to turn the water across to another row.

..After my first state record yield, companies gave us some 13-13-13 fertilizer and that made a big difference. We’d dump fertilizer in the irrigation water and you could almost see the corn change color before your very eyes. It was beautiful, and people came from all over to take photos.”
Are there any kids today that have abandoned their videogaming record attempts to pursue new agriculture records? Try to wrap your mind around the concept of a postPeak pre-teen working in the midnight loam with only the feeble light "of the cold-hearted orb that rules the night..."

That is certainly not 'Nights in White Satin, never reaching the end..."

How many kids will yearn to feel the 'white satin' of beneficiated fertilizers slipping from their fingers to the final square foot below? Borlaug: Without I-NPK, Game Over!

How many will fall to their knees to stir in the O-NPK they so laboriously saved?

"Remember when the music
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time
And as we sang we worked, for time was just a line,
It was a gift we saved, a gift the future gave..."

Can you hear the very faint music 'that sets our minds afire' when very gentle winds blow across Spiderwebs 'strung with silver wire'?

"Remember when the music
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day.."--Harry Chapin

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

IMO, the only justified location for these high-energy consumption tractors would be at any of the USA's 16,000 golf courses now going belly-up financially. Picture Tiger Woods & Justin Timberlake, plus other former golf pros, racing heavy plows across lots of abandoned golf courses as the local crowd wildly cheered them on...

Golf Masters into Master Gardeners!

EDIT: Spiderweb link up above doesn't seem to work so here is another photo for your SpiderWebRiding Contemplation:

I agree- I never got into watching shinny things go around in a circle----
But, with the liberation that the automobile gave to the American South, I can see the religious mentality the American Muscle Car brought to a backward culture.

1. Have you been able to move away from low DREI habits and replace them with high DREI ones?

One example: I started commuting to/from work on foot over a year ago - a 1.7 mile, 45 minute hike each way. I do enjoy it, it has been a time to clear my mind, and to reconnect with nature a little bit. It also does good things for my physical health.

2. What experiences have you had like mine and John Jeavons’, being simultaneously awed and disgusted by the excesses of our world?

A day does not go by without my experiencing feelings like this. "Life in the USA" - that's the experience.

3. Why should I deprive myself of the great hedonistic pleasures of the age of oil if I can still afford them since very few others willingly curtail?

As I have been saying, the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving things up. For a lot of people, it is going to be very painful, they are going to resist and fight and try to hold on with all their might. Such an approach could be deadly, just like the monkey grasping the banana in the jar. On the other hand, there will be a few people who have cultivated the attitude of holding on to things lightly, of being prepared and willing to let things go. They will have cultivated this attitude through practice, not waiting to give things up until they absolutely have to, but anticipating the inevitable and voluntarilly giving up things early rather than late. Such people will actually fare much better as a result, for they will not waste effort resisting the inevitable, and will be better able to adjust to reality and to move on. Thus, in the final analysis, voluntarilly giving up things before one absolutely has to is actually something one does for one's own benefit.

4. Is information sufficient to change behavior, and if not, what does?

Beats me. I assume that people change behavior if and when they want to change bad enough; even then, most find it very difficult, and some find it impossible. Lots of people do all sorts of things that they "know" is wrong or harmful or not in their best interest. I have absolutely no idea how to change that. I discovered when I was very young that I really didn't understand other people, and as I get older, the more I realize this even more.

5. I recognized very few faces at the truck pull, even though I live in a small town. What does this say about the cultural diversity of society and does that diversity make it more or less challenging to adapt to change?

The good news is that infiltration and gradual transformation one-by-one is more possible in diverse populations. In homogeneous populations, change has to happen all at once, across the board, or not at all, and that is very difficult to achieve. In homogeneous populations, change has to be imposed top-down; in diverse populations, bottom-up change has a real chance.

Regarding your question concerning information changing behavior-

If the information is of a sufficiently dramatic and omonious nature,it may result in change.I am in the habit of refering to events capable of generating such changes as Pearl Harbor events.

I don't know who used the term Pearl Harbor first in this context.

A Pearl Harbor event seems to be our only real hope of avoiding a hard crash in the near future,unless peak oil unwinds very slowly and allows the invisible hand of the market to adjust our behavior.Personally I think the crash is coming a lot faster than the markets can "adjust" the economy.

As far as giving ff based luxuries now is concerned,such activity on a personal basis might be viewed as ahtletic traing for the main event later,and a very few people might be influenced by personal examples and change thier own behavior.

Personally agian my view is thyat such personal sacrifices are effectively of no consequence,given that only a tiny percentage of us will change any faster than compelled by necessity.

I switched to compact cars and trucks many years ago for reasons of economy, but the criminal(pun both intended and not intended) lawyers knocking down 250 k locally in a small town will not give up thier Surburbans and Escalades until gasoline is tightly rationed,no matter the price.

And for what it's worth,but off topic perhaps,it seems to me that any amount of money spent today on renewables (other than biofuels) inftastructure is well spent,even if the only reason is that it prevents the spending of it on useless consumption.A windmill built today is that many tons of steel and concrete not used for more cars and malls.

Furthermore since the price of energy is generally highly inelastic,a windmill may pay for itself several times over ,from a societial pov.Suppressing natural gas and oil consumption only little should have a far out of proportion effect on prices in the long term by extending the life of reserves.

My first exposure to the term "Pearl Harbor Event" was the PNAC report.

It may be their coinage, or it may have been a term of art for some time before that.

Still, personal economizing may not help the system as a whole but it can certainly put you and yours in a stronger position if it does go all pear-shaped.

...the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving things up.

Things I've given up that at one time or another were regular features of my life: television, newspaper, gas heat, religion, telephone, internet (at home), sucrose, hard liquor, rototiller, air travel, mountaineering, purchased music, health care...

The thing I'd most like to give up but am not in a position to do so yet: ICE vehicle.

WNC: You answer those mostly the same way I do. #3 is almost exactly the way Nate and I put it on the radio show from way back.

This opinion that there is a very strong link between excitement, intense pleasure and FF energy consumed (or consumption in general) is a popular viewpoint on TOD. To a large extent, it is an uniquely American way of viewing excitement or pleasure. Often this site reads like an AA meeting viewed by persons who not only don't drink much, but never understood the obsession with booze. Do a bungee jump (just one example) if you want FF guilt free kicks-there are hundreds of other examples.

I would refute American exceptionalism in this case. Went I was in a remote village in the Himalayan mountains miles from the nearest road I showed a glossy magazine (India Today or some such) and the picture that the local lads ogled was an advert for a sleek, powerful Mercedes saloon.

Fascination with raw power is universal. Bungee jumping is a much more esoteric pleasure.

Seriously, anyone who feels that high FF consumption is necessary for excitement is delusional. IMHO anyone who feels this way hasn't actually experienced intense excitement.

In the 'olden' days you could race horses or chariots, or sled down mountains. Speed and power are thrilling and fossil fuels simply raise the bar to extraordinary heights. Once you've had such kicks it may be difficult to back down.

I tend to get excited by all sort of things that are high DREI so your point is taken.

Try Callenbach's "Ecotopia" for low-DREI non-lethal bloodsports based on native American practices. Not coincidentally the story took place in the Jefferson Republic. By the way Jason, to properly proselytize the target audience one needs to talk the required lingo. I believe you attended a Tractor, not Truck Pull

I wouldn't exactly call it non-lethal. The ritualized wargames used sharpened spears, and while deaths were rare, people were seriously stabbed almost every time.

For the participants, it's as much about testosterone as dopamine. Young males need an outlet for their competitive and aggressive urges, and sports are a relatively harmless outlet for it.

It was advertised as a truck pull and began with local men using their very own Dodge Rams, etc. Many had specially modified trucks that were not that far from regular street vehicles, sort of a stock car approach to the sport.

Have you been able to move away from low DREI habits and replace them with high DREI ones?

Kite flying. When there's snow, sled riding. Frog jumping contests at the local community day, my nephew's frog won one year. I wish there were some local weiner dog racing.

The disdain of tractor pulls and muscle cars and trucks (which I share) clearly drips with classism.

The low-DREI I (and probably most people on this site) have enjoyed is the g-force of sitting in a hundred ton chunk of steel accelerating from 0 to 600mph and from ground level to many miles high in just a few minutes.

The amount of energy used in the few minutes of and directly after take off is the most ff one can legally burn in the shortest time, as far as I can figure (and of course this means the most ghg one can emit in the shortest time).

This is a pleasure I have now chosen to do without, something that has lead my nearest and dearest to see me as a kind of freak (or even more of a freak than they thought me before).

Because those on this forum are generally from a class where air travel is seen as normal and beneficial, we ignore this enormous and dangerous source of waste and ghg's while focusing on red neck behaviors.

May I suggest looking for the logs in our own eyes before examining the motes in others'?

You cannot be serious about getting off by being a passenger on a commercial aircraft-you should really seek out thrills more vigourously.

Hey, anyone who isn't thrilled by sitting in a chair that's blasted into the stratosphere simply isn't paying attention. Spam in a can. A godlike window on the world, closed to watch a low-res two-star movie. I fly rarely, but when I do, I pay attention. It's magical and horrendous and cool and evanescent, and it provides a perspective on, and view of, human stewardship of the planet. It's a humbling spiritual experience for me every time I have to do it.

Maybe you are wrong.

Maybe you are jaded.

Hedonic ratchets don't come with instructions, so ymmv.

In a thousand years, the very concept of jet travel will inspire retrospective religious awe. Maybe fifty.

You are making out sitting in the 15th row of a 767 downing a double Scotch the equivalent of flying a fighter jet, which it isn't. This would be fun for any of us and it also uses FF so we all win

You are making out that having a chair in the sky, dancing between clouds in -60 degree air at nearly the speed of sound while looking down on our home planet, is somehow equivalent to sitting in a chair elsewhere.

What I'm talking about is conceptual stimulation a sense of the extraordinary, the difference between a Hubble telescope photo and a piece of used toilet paper.

I don't know why, if the difference between a greyhound bus and a 767 isn't salient to your kicks, that the difference between a 767 and an F-5 would be. A chair's a chair, right?

Next time you do it, try to experience it. Honor the CO2 with a little dopamine. Just a suggestion; it'd be better if we all just quit flying and played video games instead.

I don't know who told you that riding as a passenger in a 767 is an "extraordinary" experience but it isn't just because you say it is-in fact, you could probably find those who think riding as a passenger in a Greyhound is just as "extraordinary" but you cannot appreciate the finer details of the bus ride (you aren't open to the experience).

Brian, you actually make my point quite effectively. This bizarre experience never experienced by anyone in the history of the human race until a few short decades ago has become so routinized that most don't even notice it. And yes the airlines seem to have knocked themselves out to make it unpleasant in every way they could manage.

Meanwhile, the main point is that what is a hum-drum experience for you is enormously damaging to the planet, but this damage is overlooked by most, even by most environmentalists (in my experience in the US, at least), while we look down our upper-middle-class noses at nascar, tractor pulls and other energy intense activities of the lower classes.

How could it be otherwise that at the peak of oil use people tend to revel in the sheer and power this liquid fuel provides?

Doh: But you miss my point-passenger air travel isn't about thrills-it is about getting where you want to go as quickly as possible. There will be adjustments to a lower use of FF but life will not necessarily become less thrilling. IMO this is why "doomers" get lampooned-instead of focusing on real problems, imaginary problems are obsessed about. Jeez-without an oversupply of FF, our "dopamine" will vanish.

Indeed, they are trying to make it thrill-less as hard as they can. Last time I flew, 2004, I still did get a rush as I felt the giant bird accelerate, lift off, and climb far above all other life on the planet.

I have no doubt that you and most others do not get such a feeling.

I am not particularly concerned about future sources of thrills. This is one place I am a tad hopeful--that people might rediscover simple 9and complex), low-energy treasures: walks, making non-electric music, gardening, conversation...and also intense ones--rock climbing, spelunking, urban exploring, kayaking...I'm not even terribly opposed to intense drug experiences, though there are other ways to reach extraordinary psychic states.

Well, we're beating this to death. I get it that you're bored flying. What I'm saying is that such boredom in the face of the extraordinary is unfortunate. See the "hedonic ratchet" I mentioned earlier.

Yes, I've ridden in 767's as well as in Greyhounds. Looking out the window of a 767, I'm above more than 60% of the earth's atmosphere with a godlike view. There's interesting stuff out a Greyhound window too. By that logic, riding the space shuttle to orbit would be even more boring, since it doesn't have windows.

But flying around in jets is unsustainable and polluting, so it's probably just as well that most people don't get stimulated by it. Still, what a spoiled bunch of monkeys we are.

Back in my flying days I would seek out the window seats and push my nose against the glass. I really looked forward to take off and the g-force.

Thrilling experiences include the airport outside of La Paz, Bolivia, which is one of the highest commercial ones on the planet. Due to the thin air the plane must take off and land at what seems like insane speeds. The runway is so long I kept thinking we must soon run off into the high desert if we don't lift off soon.

I recall a nerve jolting landing there that didn't go so well. The plane started swerving at what seemed like 300 mph and I watched the wing tip on my side rock up and down, hoping it would never touch the ground. There was anxious laughter and applause when we stopped.

I have always traveled to La Paz by bus or train, but I have heard that it is perhaps the only airport where the plane has to be depressurized after landing. You were probably on Lloyd Aero Boliviano, its not for nothing that I've heard it called AerObliviano.

Heh. I've cut my flying drastically back, basically just family health emergencies now. But I spend a lot of time beforehand getting a good window seat, and leave a nose and forehead print on the window, even on an over-ocean flite. And I've had some scary flite moments; to me the entire thing is intense in all possible ways.

A great place to meditate, I find, is the end of a super-active runway. What's normal to others maintains its surreality to me, as enormous metal machines scream into the air over my head.

A former bro-in-law used to describe doing the same thing. As I recall it usually involved some chemical enhancement.

I live close enough to an airport and its noise that I am in no hurry to get closer to that racket.

Jason, Greenish

I have flown only rarely,as I have never been a great traveler,but I agree with you absolutely about the sense of wonder that should accompany flight unless one has lost his ability to appreciate wonders.

Flying in and out of New York at night is one of the biggest wake up slaps in the face I have ever experienced.

After growing up in a rural area,metro Richmond seemed like a big city when I lived there.

When you are five miles above New york the lights just go forever until you can actually get tired of looking at them.

And when you come into Richmond at the end of the flight,you keep looking for the lights,and them you realize there just aren't any- in comparison to the northeast coastal area.

That slap in the face brought home to me the reality of overpopulation and "overshoot" (a term I probably had not yet heard at that time) as gut realities.Up until then these concepts were merely intellectual concepts,text book exercises if you will..

The Space Shuttle orbiter vehicles do indeed have windows. Even the earliest, most primitive ballistic space capsules had a window, or multiple windows (Mercury, Gemini). See the movie 'The Right Stuff'. No blind 'Spam in a can' flying monkeys!

I'm right with you.
The kind of power that you have entrusted yourself to during takeoff is awe-inspiring.

I don't 'do it for the thrill'.. but it's a thrill just the same.

If I find I miss it someday, I'll try riding a waterfall in a barrel! (Kayaking Rapids or HangGliding might be other suggestions to answer the Keypost Question. and then, hang out with some young people nowadays and watch what they can do with a skateboard or a bike! We're not out of Dopamine yet!)


Look Ma, no fossil fuel!

I used to wind surf, and would drive long miles to do so, but kite boarding looks much more fun.

If only I lived on a tropical beach.

Here's another one!

Maine Man First to Solo Kayak Inland Water Trail

A 67-year-old Lakeville man has become the first person to solo kayak the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from New York to Maine.

He did take a 30day food resupply from his wife mid-trip, but I'd say he should get a prize.

As a licensed private pilot, I can tell you that there is nothing I have ever experienced that is as great as getting into a small private plane by yourself and taking off and climbing into the sky and flying above the clouds. It's magic! And point to point travel can use less gasoline per mile than a trip in most US cars.
Sadly, I had to sell my Cessna 140 in 1980 when I moved back to the farm to take care of my elderly parents, and have not been able to afford to fly since then. But I would if I could!!!!
I'd love to have one of the new sailplanes with the electric motor/propeller self launch capability. Flying with zero pollution. I'd also like to be able to afford to build one of the new all electric powered homebuilt airplanes (about a 1 hour flight time).
Where is the winning lottery ticket when you need it? (big grin)

A friend of mine just sent a link to the round the world plans of Bertrand Piccard - amazed at solar powered aircraft.

I was amazed at the presumed novelty, seems like normal evolution of technology to me, but when I did a search just now, wow!, there's a lot out there and more coming.

For flying way into the stratosphere:
Its absolute altitude record for sustained flight by a winged aircraft still stands:

For people:
for kit builders:
Looks like a factory made electric glider is already for sale:

Good luck on that lotto ticket....

Marske Flying Wings:

Basic Ultralight Glider:

For these extremely light gliders, auto towing is a perfectly viable form of towing to height, then soar for hours. The low energy way to fly.


If you can afford a midprice domestic car ,you could afford a new small airplane-if it weren't for the trial lawyers.

Did you just say

'If we had ham we could have ham and eggs.. if we had eggs!'

And if we had ham...


NOT having trial lawyers is not quite the same as HAVING ham and eggs.

I will concede that getting ham and eggs in a famine is probably easier than getting rid of the lawyers until the crash,when most of them will probably be strung up or shot out of hand, if it's a hard crash.

A basic small plane without sophisticated avionics requires much less materials than a compact car and is much simpler to boot.Fixed suspension ,no transmission,etc.Little air cooled 4 banger.

Nobody builds them for the domestic market because of the lawsuits.Ford motor company could probably build three piper cub type aircraft to modern pollution standards with the labor tooling and materials used to build one tricked out pickup.And they wouldn't have to restyle them every year either,at least not for the first few years until the competition heated up.The only issus might be the 500 pounds or so of alumnium needed per plane.

Sorry for the long delay on response, had a really busy weekend.

The simple fact of it is that the laws of physics make flying dangerous.

The only thing making flying safer than driving is strict control of heavily traveled airspace and the fact that the sky is really big. Even at that there are incidents and accidents involving near collisions and actual collisions in the air.

The lawsuits that have nearly killed the private plane business in the USA are a product of current American culture. It isn't just the lawyers but also the people who hire the lawyers to gain from their own stupidity.

More fundamentally it is that every publicly traded company is in the business of making as much money as possible for their shareholders. This means your typical American corporation is so tight it makes Scrooge look like a spendthrift. It also makes product lines with highly unpredictable and occasionally extensive expenses in excess of the revenue stream impossible to produce.

So with private aviation we have a product that has moderate margins at best, unpredictable and expensive litigation on a regular basis due to inherent risk, and a moderately high barrier to entry for potential customers in the form of Federal pilot licensing.

Is it any wonder that small plane manufacture is nearly non-existent? Only premium planes have a hope of getting the marginal profit up high enough to overcome the business risks at all.

I believe he meant the enjoyment of traveling to the destination and doing something fun there...

It's hard to figger that a tractor-pull accomplishes less than most of the rest of the stuff our species does. To a close first approximation, once oil comes out of the ground it's effectively wasted.

The future of dopamine is probably in sex, survival, surfing and schadenfreude.

I believe the common sidewalk weed purslane has high levels of dopamine. Maybe this will be our future thrill, grazing sidewalks for a quick kick?

"Modern Researches:
Purslane contains large amounts of L-noradrenaline and dopamine and a small amount of dopa as well as vitamins B1, B2, and C, carrotene, potassium salts, glucose, cellulose, calcium, phosphorus, iron, etc."

Unfortunately, another source suggests: "dopamine from purslane does not reach the brain..."

You left out fightin' and winnin'

Did you read the entire essay?

I'll confess that I didn't read the whole thing carefully before posting. Sorry. I see you do bring up air travel.

In my defense, please note my parenthetic inclusion of myself. It was a critique of an attitude I see in myself and in many I know.

Thanks. A major point for this post was to bring up this "attitude" problem, and even the hypocrisy of class and subculture bias.

I am a bit unusual in having a white, middle class upbringing, higher education, a wife with a high income/status job (physician) AND I work for zero money or very little as a community organizer and organic farmer. So, I come home sweaty and dirty most days, with sore muscles in the spring and the risk of some form of bodily injury each day I use sharp tools or lift heavy objects.

Last time I checked, commercial air travel was about $0.13 per passenger-mile, and that included all the expenses of the airline, not just running the planes. You can look up the SEC filings of all the major carriers, which include this figure (gross revenue per passenger-mile). In comparison, the AAA estimates that driving alone costs over $0.50 per passenger-mile, and only by filling the vehicle with four people can you approach the efficiency of air travel. To the extent that money spent is a decent proxy for energy consumed (like in the Ayres-Warr) model, I'd say air travel is quite efficient, although it does use more energy than not making the trip at all.

The trip is scheduled and it will be made with or without passengers ... at least once. 8^)

Interesting points, but note that I was talking specifically about take-off and the minutes shortly thereafter. If you can present me with evidence that these moments are not very energy intensive and highly ghg emitting, I would be very interested.

Even for the whole trip, I was thinking of the energy and emissions per minute rather than per mile, and I don't think there is any way to make the numbers on that come out in favor of commercial flight.

"To the extent that money spent is a decent proxy for energy consumed..." But it's not, particularly.

Do remember that prices do no tell the whole story. One reason is that there is no tax on jet fuel (an enormous advantage to the upper and upper middle classes that mostly use this form of transport, not to mention to the industry itself). There are many other ways that this industry is financially supported and subsidized, open and hidden.

There is also of course great variation in efficiency comparisons depending on the type of car, the type of plane, the number of passengers in each, the conditions of travel...

If you want to posit one passenger per car, I would suggest comparing that to one passenger per plane. Each would be stupid and inefficient ways to travel. That one is more common makes it no less stupid and inefficient.

A central point is that almost nobody really absolutely needs to travel long distances to survive. Nearly almost all long distance travel is basically discretionary. Given that fact, the mode that makes that travel most convenient is most going to encourage people to take more of these not-absolutely-necessary trips.

Comparing the efficiency of flying to Paris from NYC to driving is clearly absurd, but this is what most of these comparisons boil down to: if people didn't fly, they wouldn't take the trip, which would be a good thing for the earth.

Even for the whole trip, I was thinking of the energy and emissions per minute rather than per mile, and I don't think there is any way to make the numbers on that come out in favor of commercial flight.

I think the correlation between GHG per munite and thrill factor is pretty low. In the commercial flight takeoff, you don't get much of a veiw, and the acceleration felt by your body isn't that great -you probably can't tell the difference between acceleration, and you seat being tilted. So unless you are thinking like a physicist, you just don't notice it. Compare that to an entertainment (thrill) flight simulator type ride. The visuals, noise, and transitroy accelerations are designed to make you feel you are going really fast really dangerously, but you are going nowhere at all.

Per mile the airline passenger isn't doing all that bad. I think he's actually doing better than a passenger in high speed rail, which so many in our country think would be so great to have. But you are right, that how far we travel, has more to do with the time needed to take the trip than the energy expended to do it.

Some time ago, (1973??) when the arabs wisely cut off your oil supplies, there was a great but temporary interest in MPG.

I think it was Pan Am or BOAC who cheerfully pointed out that their fleets of 747s got 45 passenger miles per gallon which is about triple what you see even today on the commuter freeways...

Any decent small plane (250 HP or under) will yield over 20 MPG, in a straight line from where you leave from to where you want to go; which is a great advantage in efficiency over a car/SUV.

In comparison, the AAA estimates that driving alone costs over $0.50 per passenger-mile,

And avoiding the anal probes of the TSA - priceless.

Last time I checked, commercial air travel was about $0.13 per passenger-mile,

When was that? I just checked for travel today between 2 cities.

Now lets see - one way from Milwaukee to Chicago
$22 for a train
1 seat = $12.00 on megabus (I picked them because they have a $1 ticket option)
$269 northwest airlines ($250 for the ticket $12 for the airport it seems)
Mapquest says it is 90 miles (rounding) and gas alone at 25 MPG will be $10.72. Such a price ignores any tolls or costs associated with the car ownership.

Last time I was on an airplane was in April, 1969.

It's all cultural. A few centuries ago, popular spectator sports included bear-baiting and watching people being drawn and quartered. Nowadays, few people would have the stomach to watch those events in person.

In a decade or two, anybody who proposes a tractor pull will be locked up or stoned to death.

Rural people will find other things to do, just as they did before cheap oil. Local hunting and fishing is high DROEI. Riding horses is exciting, as are fighting and romancing.

The fact that people gape at huge internal combustion engines shows a lot more about the power of peer groups and the media than it does about human nature.

For me, the most effective step is to stay away from consumer culture (the TV), and to hang with people who love high DROEI activities - gardening, hiking, family, learning.

Bart / EB

Rural people will find other things to do, just as they did before cheap oil.

I wouldn't count on that. As long as they can grow oilseed crops and convert them to biodiesel or other crops to convert to alcohol the people in the rural areas will have "macho" activities involving the (excessive?) use of liquid fuels in internal combustion engines for entertainment.
I really don't think you will ever be able to really stuff that genie back into a bottle.
And the people in the bigger cities are going to need the "circuses" to help keep them under control?

I'll bet you're right, Jon, but agricultural constraints are going to make it harder to produce fuel in such quantity. At least it will be local though, won't it?

I'm guessing the mothers and wives aren't going to look with much indulgence at their family's wealth going up in flames.

In a way though, this is nothing new.

Racing horses were expensive status symbols that required high-quality feed. A thrill to ride and watch, but not economical.


A few centuries ago, popular spectator sports included bear-baiting and watching people being drawn and quartered. Nowadays, few people would have the stomach to watch those events in person.

I think the "in person" qualifier is necessary and significant; if there was a TV channel for drawing and quartering it would attract a lot of attention. Social taboos are the reason porn is the 'net's biggest industry.

I wouldn't call drawing and quartering a sport. There's no skill or competition involved, just a helpless victim. It's an exhibition like a public execution. If you're talking about sports, the fighting sports are low-energy and fascinate the masses as much as any other spectator sports. As much as I like peace and nonviolence, kickboxing and mixed martial arts matches are great fun to watch.

Years ago I had a similar experience at the Mendocino County Fair (in Boonville), but in relation to their disdain for "treehuggers." Over the last 20 years attending the Fair, I've noticed that their attitude is changing--logging subsided as the resource dwindled and tourism took its place.

A friend of mine who is Nigerian, has an interesting perspective on oil. I asked him what he would do if he were the energy czar of Nigeria. He said he would pump the oil out as fast as possible so that the nation can move on. Until the oil is sufficiently gone/expensive, we cannot move on. So, as Homer Simpson would say, "Let the baby have his bottle."

I get the same feeling at motorsports events, even the ones with relatively cosmopolitan fanbases like MotoGP.

You might find this interesting about the Nigerian oil. Game theory experiment shows people will refuse free money out of anger at an unfair deal. That's if you assume the Nigerian people get even the tiniest net benefit from oil money.

Lawn mowing is the one that gets to me. I live on a farm and have a very LARGE lawn. Costs a fortune for me to mow it. I would like to put up some fences and run livestock on the lawn to do most of the mowing and trimming (something I never do seem to have time to do myself). Unfortunately fencing to keep chickens in and dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes & other predators out is expensive and difficult to install because of the shallow topsoil underlayed with shale rock.
A mixture of sheep, miniature cattle and chickens would do very nice. And instead of spending time and money to mow the lawn myself I would have agricultural slaves doing it for me and making money (or food) from them in the process. And you get the lawn fertilized for free too!
When gas gets short in supply or really expensive, I suspect you will see a lot of McMansions with fences around them and livestock on the Mega-lawn. 100 years ago it was not uncommon to see livestock inside the city limits of most communities and I would guess that in another 10-20 years it will return to that.
Having just read the US Government 1980 rationing regulations (still in force and waiting to be implemented) that state that no rations will be issued for motor boating and the like, I would guess that most of the "recreational" uses of liquid fuels will either stop due to rationing or having a prohibition on the use of fuels for "recreational uses". When the rationing only provides just barely enough gas to get to work and back, I suspect that motor boating, classic car shows, car/truck racing, sport aviation and similar activities will wither away somewhat. But recreational activities that are not in themselves fuel users like quilt/ knitting shows, gun shows, wood working shows, sailboat shows, threshing shows, county/state fairs and the like will also suffer due to lack of participation from lack of transportation due to tight or expensive fuel.
I would guess that there will be a lot of crying, whining and temper tantrums being thrown in the next 5-10 years due to fuel availability or expense problems!

Buy 16' hog panels, cut one into squares for the ends (a metal cutting blade in a circular saw works well), attach chicken wire to the panels with Locksit clips, wire the panels together with baling wire. The resulting cage will house hens and can be easily moved by two people. If you want the cage to be stouter, weld rebar to the panels before attaching the wire. I've found that the cage is stout enuf without rebar. I put an old piece of plywood over one end for shade. Depending on how many hens you have, the cage will need to be moved every 2 - 4 days. Mowing grass is insane.

Go native - convert to native grasses and perennials and conduct an annual burn in early spring. Beautiful, wildlife friendly and can include medicinal, edible plants.

Maybe there is some good technology coming out of some of these activities ??

Worlds fastest street legal ELECTRIC CAR

but most are totally insane , such as a burning rubber contest.

sick but a telling tale of where a large percentage of the pop. is at ..

I guess my latest low DROEI wet dream would be the pedal sailboat .saw one yesterday

Oh geez, I could really go for that too. Kinda thrilling just to imagine.

I prefer the engineering & human biometric science involved in achieving this:
Sam Whittingham 2008 World's Fastest Bicycle 82.33 mph! [8 seconds]
Recall from the authors of 'Bicycle Science' that they believe it will have to move to rails soon to advance further. I hope any biometric experts here on TOD are delving into this subject to see how efficient cargo-railbikes can be.

Even a crash could be a rush ......

Yep, safety is yet another factor for moving this to steel wheels on steel rails. A railbike wouldn't need all the extra metal and carbon-fiber that is required to help protect the rider if something goes terribly wrong at these highly lethal speeds. Also, since steering is not required: the rider could also use his/her arms to further increase output for any maximum speed attempt.

Again, recall how many sets of bicycle tires are likely to be worn out before a single set of steel wheels needs replacement. Not to mention the additional effects of thorns, broken glass, nails, potholes, overflowing sewage, mud, snow, ice, etc..

How do you want to get your fresh eggs to market? Smooth rail-riding, or a hazardous traverse across bad roads postPeak?

Great links, Clever design!

But I would prefer that we follow Alan's RR & TOD ideas so that all the existing standard gauge rail, plus many miles of new track, would be quickly committed back to the heavy equipment and electrification. In other words: the standard gauge would be so busy with traffic that No Other Rail Traffic [like these railbikes] would want to dangerously straddle these tracks.

IMO, it would be better if some govt. org, maybe the DOT, set out the national design standards for narrow gauge networks. I have no idea what that width might be, but I would like it to be wide enough to accommodate minitrains like this beauty:

Imagine the guts of a Prius powering the mini-loco. Also notice how lightweight is the railtrack compared to Std Gauge railtrack. Then when FFs become mostly Unobtainium: this same narrow gauge is the ideal size for pedaling railbikes [maybe with easily attachable, batt-powered kicker motors for upgrades?].

As posted before: Alan's ideas as the standard gauge 'spine & limbs' with the narrow gauge as the local 'ribcages'.

There's always Maine's 2foot narrow gauge!

While I agree with dohboi that there is surely a class-issue tied in with this particular example, a complement to that is the way the Middle and Uppermiddle class have as many sins that are peculiar in the way they disquise and keep pleasantly quiet about the power consumed.

The NOISE, BLUSTER and FLASH of tractors and Nascars and Tailgating.. the 'vulgar' sports (and vulgar comes from 'Volk', or Folk, ie, 'Commoners' FYI) makes them easy targets to point out, but I'm a lot more concerned about the INSIDIOUS power that we use where it's well-muffled, or even totally invisible and silent.

The Tractor Pull that I envision throughout this post is the long, slow trail of vehicles idling in line at a hundred thousand Takeout Windows around the country. Both are issues, and point to our expectations and feelings about power.. I'm just trying to pay attention the the wheels that AREN'T squeaking at all, but still drive us quickly down the wrong road.

Thanks for the thought-inspiring post, nonetheless, Jason!

ps, In John Howe's video about his electric Farmall Cub tractor (and golf cart and MG), he mentions bringing the little pipsqueak to a tractor-pull on the way to the Commonground Fair, I think, and he says that the litte rig did well, and was met with approval by the crowd. Celebrations are a customary time to flex the muscles, run a few hard laps, and burn the big YuleLogs.. we just have enough power to do this 'celebrating' far too often.
>> JOHN HOWE VIDEO (Tractor pull comments at around 2:45)

pps, My fave Dopamine toy was a Gimbal-ride in a pennyarcade in NYC. No motors, just three pivoted rings and you in the middle, tossing your weight around and spinning your lunch to see if you can become a human salad shooter. FUN!

Rock-climbing and ropes-courses are a couple other contenders that don't suffer too much of the 'Precious Yuppie Games' stigma. Some, but not a ton of it.

Running the Bulls at Pomplona,SP (sp?)

The lifestyle absurdities pre-designed for me -- and even more so for my children --create such cognitive dissonance within me that I have very nearly given up bothering with talking about or doing anything about the ecological tsunami of which Peak Oil is a part.

As an American, I see that we have invested very heavily in a materialistic lifestyle that has become an addiction.

It appears that we have chosen to kill people in an effort to prop up our "lifestyle" even though the global resource war will consume and pollute and cause havoc, suffering, and more hatred as it rolls on.

The irony is that few humans will survive this war. Those who do will likely live short and brutal lives in a n environment made hostile to human life.

There is an image in the book "The Road" that keeps returning to me. The father and son are asleep, and the father dreams of being in a huge cave with the sound of water dripping and running. Eventually they come to a pool. Across the pool a pale creature lifts its head from drinking water. The father seems to recognize this creature as something evolved or devolved from our species. It is eyeless and seemingly without speech, groaning and whimpering as it senses the presence of strangers, and simply melts back into the further reaches of the cave.

Some postwar lifestyle, eh?

How is this for future excitement?
Plastic bottles made of PET (polyethelene terapthalate) converted into plastic sheets.
A glider is made from this.
It is pressurised to 3 or 4 atmospheres. You sit in the cockpit and pull the plug.
In a few moments you are at a convenient height to catch thermals.
You travel a thousand kilometers a day, sleeping in your glider. Next morning there you are drinking coffee and gathering courage to do it all again, once the bottle is pumped up.
I cannot imagine anything more awe inspiring than coming out of a thunderhead into the smooth flow of a jetstream.
The future need not be all black.

Flying into a thunderhead in a glider made of recycled soda bottles would be a testicle-retracting experience, all right.

When I was a bored teen, we'd make kites out of lumber and fabric that would lift a person. Not for the faint-hearted.

Some of the most fun was a 28-foot surplus cargo parachute. After enjoying being dragged across nearby open fields for a few weeks, we hooked it to a two-wheeled dolly with a sheet of scrap aluminum under it, for low friction, and on windy days would take turns riding it. On a good 40mph April windy day the entire thing would get airborne and go over houses and large buildings. The trick was to bail out before death from falls, slamming into stationary objects, or power lines.

Dopamine is where you find it, I reckon.

edit: for some reason this cause me to think of this:

In Blackfoot, the name for the site is Estipah-skikikini-kots. According to legend, a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the buffalo plunge off the cliff from below, but was buried underneath the falling buffalo. He was later found dead under the pile of carcasses "where he got his head smashed in"

In Blackfoot, the name for the site is Estipah-skikikini-kots

Very loosely translated, this means "Darwin Award Winner"

It is good that you are still with us Greenish.
If you have got to die of something, it might as well be of Life.

I precied my Idea right down. I would use a pinch of carbon fibers in the plastic matrix for strength and would want superb instrumentation such as thermal visulisation and augumented reality.

It beats pushing a wheelbarrow across the Nullabor.

Re the Cirque de Soleil--Las Vegas used to sponsor a lot of bus trips, which is good, but the destination is an unsustainable city using huge amounts of energy for air conditioning and immported water, which is bad.
Maybe we could import the cirque de soleil to a Northern California Indian casino with a mild climate, and emphasize bus caravans. Maybe some of the clientele would even go for an inexpensive tour of your farm.

I love my tractor. The deep diesel rumble is a tonic of power. The powerful hydraulics extend my reach and strength and skill a thousand times over. 44 HP and four wheel drive.

I don't know what it does for my carbon footprint but it slurps up less than a gallon an hour. Almost never gets above three miles an hour. But I work it hard. I use it to haul logs that become firewood and chips for heat and boards for building. I till gardens and move all manner of heavy loads. Sometimes I even use it to take me down the hill so I won't have to walk back up. My legs ain't what they used to be.

If I can't get diesel then I'll shift to biodiesel or even SVO. I would hate to give it up. I need it to build the homestead and take care of the woods. Really can't see the appeal of races, any kind of races, but a beefy diesel engine is a treasure.

what is the end product..?

is virtue utilitarian?

To my mind NASCAR is a very good use of gasoline despite it serves no purpose at all except to panda to this addiction state.

to me commuting in hideous traffic in a fully loaded car with very good milage is a greater waste of fossil fuels than burning it recklessly driving round in circles for the hell of it.

over consumption is often in the areas of our life that are ordinary and unrewarding,

this guy said it several days ago

Was this article a story about pollution and fuel use at a tractor pull, or an opportunity to inform us of your many contributions to the community, of your family and its financial ability to pick and choose what forms of entertainment they want, in spite of the friviolous use of fossil fuels they may represent?

All of that, and how they are connected, what discomforts arise as a result, ironies, etc.

Was your comment about anything constructive or just about being snide?

Been to many tractor pulls. It is a spectacle of noise, fire, smoke and power that manages to instantly saturate the nervous system. The visceral impact is impossible to explain; you have to be there. FWIW, they can have my portion of the planet's oil to fuel the tractors.

I just recently electrified my bicycle using a kit. 750W at the rim is fairly impressive. Now I'm wondering if it would make any sense to make a pull tractor from the same technology. It would certainly alter the DREI calculations if you charged it for a month from a solar array. Setting aside the carbon footprint of making a big enough L-Ion brick and a permanent magnet motor large enough to Get It Done -- and the solar array of course -- it would be one of those rare would-you-look-at-that moments that would tip the balance for some people.

And what would happen if the crazy thing actually won? Well for starters they would form a new bracket for the e-tractors so the gas turbines wouldn't look so wimpy.


I have an electric bike with a 350 W motor and my son and I joked about having me enter the truck pull. I use it to pull a large capacity, heavy-duty, custom made trailer that I use for hauling all sorts of stuff. It is like my little pick up truck.

Posted it above, but look at this one .. People ARE doing this, and it works.

(go to 2:50 for a tractor pull story .. )

It doesn't even have to have LiIons, since the weight is a needed part of getting Traction with those wheels.. this site below talks about picking up extra Lead Acid blocks where the rear lift once would have grabbed a chunk of rock or cement for extra weight.. now that weight give you more range!

"...Finally, I can't imagine farming WITHOUT our electric tractors. These have now been running for many, many years, and they are (so far, knock on wood!) totally bombproof. We REALLY abuse them - and compared to our expensive new big Diesel tractor that I paid gazillions of dollars for only 3 years ago, BOTH tractors combined have required about 10% of the upkeep/maintenance/fixit work of that one stupid tractor (and it was NEW!) Things that have gone wrong on our electrics are corroded wires to the battery terminals AND I shorted through a wire to the hydraulic pump. In all cases it just means replacing a wire and the cost of a few cents... some of the battery lugs get melted, so I have to replace those ($1.50/ea). If I would keep them clean, it wouldn't happen, but... it's just we get in a rush... and I mean to do it tomorrow, and then 3 months later... "pop".... and I can see another one shorted out. Even the batteries are still fine now that we know to recharge them overnight after even short runs (and I put them on a charger once every 3 weeks during the winter). Okay, enough of the 2007 update on parts!"

I just went over to the link about the electric tractors.Now this guy may be doing something with them that by his own definition is farming,but I doubt you could find a real farmer that would say he is doing anything but gardening,and not much of that.The four batteries he lists as powering his tractor for less than a hundred bucks each in 2007 would not produce enough kwh to pull a plow for more than a few minutes,and it's very doubtful that he could even finish cultivating a good size garden w/o stopping for a recharge or two.

At that price they HAVE to be lead acid, unless stolen,and it will probably cost him more to replace the batteries than it would to buy fuel to do the work done by the batteries.

Whatever tractor he bought new must have been the original all time lemon,as the average farm tractor is about as bullet proof a machine as can be bought-but there are UNPROVEN makes on the market these days.

I hope to own a(second hand) battery powered car before I die,but batteries that will run a farm tractor used for every day farm work don't even exist in laboratories yet. (in the section under 'Growing Practises')

A couple years ago someone explained to me that Kate and I weren't "real farmers" at all - we were "lifestyle" farmers. They didn't mean it in the nicest way, but we decided we were delighted with the term! Despite the fact that the farm has been our primary source of income and we've been the largest CSA in New Paltz for several years running (we've decided to shrink a bit, so it won't last) our primary goal in vegetable production is NOT just to produce a maximum tonnage of food or cash each year from these acres. As embarassingly "groovey" as it sounds, our goal has been to produce health and happiness for ourselves and our members.

We've had debates on what a 'real' farmer is more than once. These guys are a Family CSA, with a bit of corn (if you watch their video, you'll say it's MOSTLY corn), and largely fruit and veggies, it seems. Whether or not these two machines would satisfy large scale monocrop farmers as useful tools for some part of their work (which is how they describe it), the endorsement above is pretty clear. You got it from the Horseless' mouth. If you think we're heading into a time where there'll be more family farms, why would such a durable, low-maintenance tool be something to scoff at?

Sorry no insult intended to small scale operators.

I do realize that some very small scale farmers can succeed by selling just about every thing produced not used at home at retail or even boutique prices.We are very small scale ourseleves and would not have survived had we not been able to sell quite a bit over the years at "retail",albeit less than supermarket retail.

But this marketing strategy is not a realistic option for most existing farmers.

I use some rechargeable batteries for certain purposes,such as electric fencing and to run the motor on my tiny little fishing boat.

I also maintain my own machinery.

If this guy knows anything about tractors,he can run a comparable tractor with a gasoline or diesel engine for many years at current fuel prices doing the work he is doing for the price he paid to CONVERT his tractors.

I repeat that tractors-especially older ones- are very simple and easily maintained machines and that anyone willing to learn the basics of maintainence can look after one for very little in far less time than he would lose in critical time periods waiting on an electric to recharge.

There is one hell of a difference in the amount of energy required to run a tractor over soft ground on flotation tires pulling an implement and running a solid tired forklift on a dead smooth and level concrete floor.And new forklift battery is a big ticket item about- two grand and up if I am not mistaken, several years ago.

Furthermore electric forktrucks are used almost entirely,so far as I know, for safety reasons- no fumes or flammable fuel inside the workplace-rather than efficiency reasons.

We used to have a similar little tractor- about the same size I mean- that would run full throttle pulling a plow four four hours straight on five gallons of gas.I would guess we were going three times faster too.The engines of such little tractors generally last at least two thousand hours with simple maintainence before they need serious repairs.

Now if he has a SUBSTANTIAL amount of money tied up in pv,and the weather is sunny,he might be able to get an hour or two of hard work out of his machines that day-which I readily admit can be enough SOMETIMES.

But if he recharges from a coal or gas fired grid,the total energy and environmental inefficiences add up to more with his electric than just burning some diesel ,given battery replacement,etc.

Just because something can be done does not prove that it is economic or practical to do it.

I have high hopes for cheap battery power and cheap pv- but I'm not holding my breath.

Using a solar charged vehicle to go get firewood , I can do ......

but forget that solar tractor

Why forget it? These guys just said they've relied heavily on it for years, with minimal maintenance? They had to learn how to treat the batts, but otherwise sing the highest praises?

You can see his page describing how much and how little he uses the Solar Panels.. They can sit out at a field far from the plugs, charging one tractor while he and she use the other one.. etc.

It's funny that even with a direct testimonial, complete with warts, and with the experience we have with the torque and simplicity of electric motors (forklift, electric trains, etc) that you guys are so exceedingly skeptical about them.

Why would you say forget it? It seems like a great tool, and has rave reviews as such.

I have 2 EV's .... not enough torque or energy density

..proving that his testimony is wrong?

A Texan and a Mainer were talking about their respective farms.. "Feller, on my Ranch, I can drive my pickup all day and never get to the end of the property!" Says the Texan. Gazing wistfully at the sunset, the Mainer retorts, "yeh, I had a truck like that once, too."

I love the tractor ... BUT

what is the watt hours of the battery pack ?

How many amps is being used when cultivating ?

the solar panels produce ?? watt hours/day ?


Power Update: We attached five six-inch wide goosefoot cultivators to the tractor, sunk them 4 inches deep into the ground and drove fast back and forth on 300' rows with no lack of power. Although our soil may be lighter than some, this is MUCH deeper than one would normally use for cultivation. I was moving a LOT of dirt. Certainly I could hear that the motor was working harder than normal, but... I could still go as fast as I wanted to in third gear. I just can't imagine a situation that would call for a larger motor.

How many batteries?
On the question of batteries, we have a 48 volt system. On one tractor we have four 12-volt deep cycle batteries, on the other tractor we have six 8-volt batteries. Though both end up with 48 volts, because there is more mass associated with the 8 volt batteries (and 50% higher cost) they will allow us to run the tractor about 50% longer on a given charge.
Interesting to note that niether tractor has ever run low on batteries if they started out fully charged that morning.

On one charge we've seeded dozens of 400' beds with our 4-row Planet Jr. and not noticed any loss of power.... We've never tried to run it out... I don't know that we have enough acreage to do so even if we wanted to. Seeding doesn't take a lot of power.
In regards to cultivation (which requires more battery power because you are moving more soil) I don't think I've ever tried to cultivated more than about 2/3-3/4 of an acre between charges... We run a CSA farm, so everything is growing at different times in different successions. I don't know how many acres I COULD cultivate between charges... or if I am already unknowingly bumping up against the limits... If we had a heavier soil it would probably use up the batteries faster. Buying the six 8 volt batteries wouldn't be that much more expensive than the four 12 volts, and we estimate that they should give us almost 50% longer running time. Base it on your farm size.

I've given the link.. go ahead and read it. He has a lot of info in there.

He doesn't use them exclusively on PV power.. and I'm not painting these as a Panacea, a disclaimer one has to make weekly around here. He describes his battery experiences, the simplicity of the conversion, the cheap availability of 'donor Vehicles'.. it seems clear the man has a good pair of tools that work well for him.

He describes what he does with it, and how satisfied he's been with it.

Okay ... I'm interested in building one.

48 volts with enough panels to run the tractor to grow my food.

I used to teach High School Farm Power.

Anyway, what would be a real good tractor frame to use

to grow Corn , Beans ,squash, vegetables ..... ??

The Allis Chalmers "G" Cultivating and Seeding tractor was built in the late 1940's and 50's. It is really an unusual looking tractor, because the engine is in the back, allowing excellent an unobstructed field of vision of the implements, which are mounted on the BELLY of the tractor. Toolbars and implements are easily and quickly changed (especially if you drop the implements onto a dolly which can be rolled in and out).

The tractor doesn't have a 3 point hitch system, and it's PTO is non-standard... This is not a tractor most people are using to plow or disk fields. It's really magic when it is used for seeding and cultivating.

It's nearest competitor is probably the Farmall "Cub", but... for me, the "G" is far better, simply because you are placed so close to the seeding and weeding implements you are using, allowing you to catch seeding snafu's and get closer in your mechanical cultivation.

Although they haven't made Allis-Chalmers "G" tractors in decades, you can find them for very cheap, often abandoned in back fields, with long-since siezed motors. (We advertised in the local paper to get one and "asked around" for another).

Full disclosure, I'm cutting and pasting.. I'm NOT a farmer, (but I'm not a total knucklehead either).. but he's pretty explicit about his experience. Good luck!


This guys tractor may serve him well considering that he has never cultivated more than three quarter acres of very light soil at one go.

I know people who get around pretty well with electric golf carts too,but not very far or very heavily loaded.

We no longer own such a small tractor but we once had a farmall cub with belly mount cultivators that would cultivate that 3/4 acres of light soil with maybe a quart of gas max.

And I could mount the side mower on it and mow hay all day w/o stopping and at four dollars a gallon I would damn near bet my farm that it would cost less to keep it full of gas than it would to replace the batteries if as I estimate they would need to be recharged at least four times ,probably six to eight times to get in a good full nonstop hard day eqiuvalent.

And the rain don't necessarily wait for you to charge your batteries.

Our 1967 Oliver suffered it's first major breakdown this year,and we have put it out to pasture since Oliver is out of business and parts are extremely hard to find or simply nonexistent..
Olivers were never very popular around here and I haven't been able to find a donor tractor.

For three thousand five hundred dollars we bought a low hours 1972 model year Ferguson model 30 industrial ,which is essentially the 135 farm model with an extra heavy front suspension.Unless Ferguson goes out of business it will last another forty years easy,and I can easily do more work with it in a day than both the electrics in a week,if plowing,mowing,bushhogging,dragging logs,towing trucks, baleing hay,powering a sawmill or irrigation pump,or hauling a wagon loaded with three or four tons of hay.As a matter of fact the electrics would be utterly useless for most of these every day jobs.

So I will readily grant that under certain ideal circumstances for certain operators ,an electric tractor will work.

If you other guys will grant that the electric tractor is it exists today is not going to be seen on many farms for very real practical reasons-costs and productivity.

I hope to live for another fifteen or twenty years,and as I said before I hope to own an electric car before I die.But I'm not holding my breath.

I was an AF pilot from 1952-1972. Flying a fighter at about 1000 gph JP4 is bad enough and after the first thousand hours or so the dopamine level is not so great unless someone was shooting from your six o'clock ... "hours of bordom and moments of stark terror". But what about the BUF crews at over 10K gph at low level and no real kicks at all. Talk about using fuel ... a single B-52 flight uses more fuel than the weight drag and all the spectators. I bet it would be fun to do a barrel roll in one though.

Edit: Until about 1960 something there was no radar tracking so if weather was not a factor we could go and do most anything. Have you ever thought of telegraph poles along a railroad looking like a picket fence at 600 knots?
Yeah ...

If this hadn't happened in '94, I would've asked if this was you.

"You live in fame or go down in flame ..."

As to having the experience of being simultaneously awed and disgusted, for a little over three years after having my consciousness raised to PO, I continued to work as a fly-on entertainer on cruise ships. The world of people running around airports and laying about cruise ships suddenly took on an unreal appearance, quite out-of-step with the emerging realities that were dominating my reading and thinking all week long except for the few hours around my shows and maybe the late-night comedy afterward. Other aspects of the world I observed took on a most tragic aspect, such as the string of new resorts then going up along the highway between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, the new wing of the Sangster International airport, while the highway itself was under significant "modernization" during the whole period. In Jamaica the well-off build their homes with cinder-block while the poor use scraps of plywood (and the like) to build their tiny shacks. Wonder what cultural degradations prevent at least the latter from using wattle and daub like previous generations did.
(I was pleased at one point that at least one of my drivers was able to inform me about the traditional house building methods.)

On another positive note, I took a greater interest in the tricyclist unions in Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. One of the tricycle drivers told me the union builds its own tricycles (from appearances based on a front-loading design that similar to some Huffy's I identified on-line, though with varying axle widths). The drivers, I recall, are divided into three main divisions - those who carry passengers on the piers, those who do similar work in-town, and those who distribute goods to the stores from the ferry-boat terminals. The latter function is of course the one that goes on the possible post-peak adaptations list, though the general picture of the region with its exploded population and prospective loss of the tourism industry seemed quite grim to me.

As for my own adaptations, I soon began commuting to the Gainesville, FL airport by Xtra-cycle, occasionally with heavy prop cases, though usually with just carry-ons. Later, after having relocated with my wife to Maine near my parents and brother, I continued that insane weekly commute for two more years, before leaving it to accept a substitute teaching job. Not much to really feel good about however. If the cruise line offered, I would probably go back. Certainly it had its satisfactions over the dead-end job I've got now. And even though the prospect has been haunting me since learning about PO soon after our engagement, my half-million accumulated miles on two airlines is scheduled to expire over the next couple of months, and together with our reduced economic condition this may end the possibility of my wife ever seeing her family in Japan again.

Don't know if there's a moral here. Possibilities for the future are significantly degraded by previous excesses and current commitments. It's not so easy to see this play out in one's own life, and there's a strong tendency to want to hang on to at least some of what one had. Please forgive my indulgences.

Great story.

Here's another. Gregory Green, who filmed The End of Suburbia, then got a job documenting the construction of the brand new Jet Blue terminal at JFK. He figured once it was complete the airline would go bankrupt within a few years. He told me this while filming Escape from Suburbia, in which I play the role of inspiring talking head.

I've lost track of all the airports I noticed were undergoing significant expansions or renovations during the past few years. Wish I could remember the exact phrase he used, but during one period the repeat cruiser's party was scheduled in the theater as I set up backstage. Every week I would listen to the soundtrack of the video they played, in which the CEO proclaimed the company's boundlessly bright future.

This discussion drags you right into the two world reality that anyone who has become PO aware finds themselves in. I tried to "spread the word"
ten years ago and found myself utterly frustrated and befuddled by the "glazed over looks" that immediately follow the discourse. Finally found the two world approach to maintain my sanity. Go to the tractor pulls and enjoy them. Do not deny my wifes' joy in traveling to see my daughter at MIT, when she really does not have to go. Fly to visit the grandchildren on occasion, but do not get caught up in the denial. Get that hydro plant running. Understand how the circle of sustainable life will work for you as the shit hits the fan, know where the food will come from, the bullets will come from, and prepare, prepare, prepare.
We will not prevent this from happening in an unpleasant way, of that I am sure. The human condition will not allow the majority to plan ahead. All you can do is to prepare, physically and mentally, as well as you can. Try to protect your family and friends, as well as you can. Do your best to inform them as they will eventually remember who warned about all this and may accept advise in the future. Don't lose it by coming unglued at the insanity of it all. We have some time left, before the second world order overcomes the first. Enjoy it. The nigerian is right.

I am not as wigged out by the cognitive dissonance as I used to be and, like you, have found the balance point that seems healthy. Humor really helps, sort of the Kurt Vonnegut type though.

Years ago, when I was in the 99.99 fitness percentile and could run long distances with perceived effort most would feel walking up a modest mountain slope, Sports Illustrated published a story of one runner who spied a deer while he was running, and for reasons known only to him, decided to run the deer down. After a long chase, he found the deer standing still, trembling, and he walked over, touched the deer and then turned around and ran home. The story combines a high DPRE with a sweet yearning to do something extra-ordinary. I doubt 1 in 10,000,000 Americans could accomplish this feat these days.

Hello Suneska,

Thxs for this fascinating info. I am not a human biometric expert, but my SWAG is that a fit human on a properly geared cargo-railbike could move cargo more efficiently than a camel. After crossing many miles of dunes, IF a destination stockpile of food & water is camel-unavailable: you don't have any choice but to slaughter the animals.

The railbike has the advantage of free-coasting downhill. Anyone backpacking in the Grand Canyon, for example, knows how much extra energy is expended on downgrades.

Half my lifetime ago I was extremely fit too, especially my years wrestling in college. Those were incredible times.

I lived on the outskirts of Anchorage for a while. I recall waking up in the summer and deciding I would walk to the top of a mountain I could see. Not on any path, just through forest and then up to the alpine zone and over rock screes. I could do this so easily then.

Once got out of my tent, barefoot to go pee, spotted a caribou and began running along side it, probably for a mile, in Denali National Park. The ground was soft lichen and moss and I had this floating feeling. Could have been 4 am since it was always light out. Never touched him though.

These kinds of experiences were so much richer than that truck pull, it doesn't compare.

I can remember driving to the Longs peak trailhead in rocky mountain park, and running up the trail, passing the poor breathless tourist-climbers hauling big packs for the two day climb. The expressions on their faces as I ran past... Made it back home for breakfast too. Now, I'm afraid in my boomer old age, I wouldn't even be able to keep up with those tourists.

"...and for reasons known only to him, decided to run the deer down."

This, from many things that I've read, is actually how humans used to hunt. With our springy feet and bipedalism, we simply and efficiently ran things to exhaustion. There are stories of settlers in North America speaking with nonchalance of the Native Americans running over 100 miles in a day - like it was a routine event, nothing special.

I understand that the physiology of a man in utterly superb condition is such that this running down a deer,which by evolutionary "design" is a sprinter, is possible.The Tarahumara used to it as a matter of course in relays.

But if you have ever seen a whitetail cross a couple of thousand feet of open field at twenytfive or thirty mph,or climb a steep thousand foot hill about as fast,and stop to think that a four minute miler can do exactly 15 mph over the mile,I don't see how an individual unassisted could run down a deer-unless he can track as well as a hound maybe.But there may be places where cover is that scarce and long distance visibility is that good.If you could always see the deer,you could catch it.Most deer won't run more than a half a mile or so in my experience when startled.

If you follow a deer very quietly that has run away from you,you can sometimes spot it again.

The Dine' (Navajo) highly value the hides of deer that have no holes (bullet or arrow) in them, for ceremonial purposes. In order to obtain such a hide deer used to be cornered in box canyons they couldn't climb out of, wrestled down and smothered to death in a bag of corn pollen. Nowadays deer are ran down with pickup trucks in the hope that the impact will kill the deer without tearing the hide. Out in the open a person on foot could never catch a deer.

Head shot through the eye and various trapping methods strike me as a simpler option.

I belong to the Red Deer Sports Car Club. The main form of excitement is driving tight circles and figure eights, etc around plastic road cones (called "autocross"). I have an 18 year old Miata, but I prefer to get my jollies trying to boost the gas mileage (I haven't driven the cone circuit yet, but probably will at least once). So far, I've been able to get 48 mpg (imperial) on the highway, mainly by making modifications to get cooler air into the intake manifold.

There's an undeniable thrill in going around corners fast, but it's certainly tempered by the constant knowledge that the practice is doomed and that it's bad for the planet.

I take my old Mamiya film camera to the races. There's also a thrill in looking at a medium format transparency showing a Lotus or an old Mini Cooper being driven around cones by an extremely good driver. I just hope that 120 film photography outlasts motorsports.

And in 20 years will wealthy farmers compete with RME tractors, steam tractors, biogas tractors or stirling engine tractors.

First I want to commend Jason Bradford for his courage in writing the article he wrote. I have noticed that very reluctantly, some folks here are beginning to admit to having some fondness for certain aspects of our culture and technology as it exists post 1200AD!

Perhaps we need a support group, something like AA, only it would be TA (Technology Anonymous)and each person could get up and say "Hi, my name is XXXX and I use and admire technology." Then would be given of how the person began the long road down the path to such horrible depravity, "...I had my first experience with a mini-bike when I was 9 years old..."

As for tractor and/or truck pulls, they never really worked for me. There is not enough nuance, not enough sublime history, art and "detail" to really hold ones attention for long (unlike endurance sports car racing or Formula One for example, which is much grand opera as noisy blast)

Interestingly, the issue of addiction (the need for some of the drug leads to a need for more and more until the effect of a given dose no longer delivers the needed rush) has become a real problem for the true connoisseur of motorsport (and yes, I do consider myself one, I know classes, cars, technology and history of the motorsport artform that most fans are not even aware exist). The true connoisseur of motorsport finds a rather odd inverse relationship at play, in that as the horsepower produced (and money spent) rises, the sublime artistic aspect of the activity drops. The sport declines from sublime artform to Baroque excess (the "truck pull" being just one example)

Let's discuss this by way of example: I sit holding a book that was given to me by friends just today as a birthday gift. The book is a history of Porsche (my friends know my fascinations with technology of all types and still they speak to me). On the opening page is the museum restored example of a famous design by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the Lohner-Porsche of 1899:

This the famous "hybrid" Porsche, 4 wheel drive driven by an electric hub motor in each wheel, powered by a combination of batteries and an internal combustion charging motor. The vehicle was indeed raced and with some success. The dopamine blast from driving the car must have been a real kick in 1900, but the amount of power required to provide it was not so great, with all four electric hub motors combined capable of only 28 horsepower in short bursts and 14 horsepower being much more normal for cruising. The dopamine blast came not from the horsepower you see, but from the art of dealing with technology not yet seen on the face of the planet until that very time, of seeing the deep level of genius the human mind is capable of (Even though Dr. Porsche was essentially self taught as an "engineer"). This is of course the same dopamine rush one gets when listening to a symphony of Beethoven or looking at a painting by Picasso or Mattisse.

Some 47 years later this same Dr. Porsche would design a vehicle still considered to be one of the single great artistic designs (automotive or otherwise) in history, with the prototype 356 based on Volkswagen mechanicals and a handbuilt aluminum body built in 1947. This car would become in production form a legendary small bore racecar, hill climb car, sports car and an artistic device still prized by the connoisseur of automobiles as well as art and design. Such is the sensation of seeing this vehicle and actually THINKING through the brilliance of the design that it can almost bring tears to the eyes. Is this the effect of "dopamine"?

The respect for the car is not caused by massive horsepower: As first built, it produced 35 to 40 horsepower depending on state of tune.

Let us now pause to reflect: One of the single greatest design of sports car and competition car, the car that birthed a company and a legend, produced less than 50 horsepower, and was considered a "high performance" car in it's day when used for it's purpose. After WWII, in a world in which the Americans were building cars with well over 100 horsepower. Only a year after the design of the Porsche 356, Oldsmobile introduced the "Rocket 88" with a 100 horsepower advantage over the small bore Porsche (The Oldsmobile produced 135 horsepower), and a year after that Chrysler introdued the "Firedome Hemi", the engine that would become the prototype for the ultimate grand dopamine rush, the massively supercharged drag racing engines used in Top Fuel dragsters and using nitromethane fuel), the original hemi producing 180 horsepower in 1951, or over 4 times the power of the little Porsche!

The point of the above comparison is this: Dopamine and respect for brilliant design seem to be two different things.

Would one dismiss some of the great technical minds in history, Colin Chapman, Ferrarri, Bugatti, De Dion, and the great originators of the American twin cam four valve engines, Fred Offenhauser, Harry Miller and Leo Gossen (designers of engines capable of 420 horsepower from 251 cubic inches in the early 1930's (!), would we dismiss these gret minds as guilty of only a need for a "dopamine" fix? That would be like saying that the whole drive behind the art of Peter Paul Rubens was a fascination with plump women. It is insulting to the intelligence of those who prize the best of human achievement.

The influence of the 356 continues: As one considers the amount of power needed to create what was then considered a very usable little sports car (45 kilowatts!), the need for ever increasing amounts of liquid fuel seems to be only a dopamine rush. It becomes obvious that the real rush of "elegant engineering", something that Porsche and the great technical artists were getting their real "high" from, is in creating levels of efficiency that were considered impossible, even though in the days that the great minds worked in the industry it was proven to be not only technically possible but aesthetically beautiful as well.

Of course as any artist will tell you, "everybody is a damm critic."
As for me, "My name is Roger, and I am addicted to technology. The blend of design,art and dopamine is just too irresistable. I AM addicted to the artform of our age."


Cars today have ultra-plush suspensions, high amounts of sound-damping insulation...everything possible to isolate you from the experience of the road and of driving. So to get the same feeling, you need apeshits of horsepower.

Why are some of the most revered cars the dinkiest, least equipped, and lowest horsepower machines on the planet? VW Beetle, Austin Mini Cooper, 2 CV, Fiat 500, Austin-Healey Sprite, Fiat Spyder, MGB, MG Midget, Triumph Spitfire....

The spirit lives on in the Lotus Elise and Ariel Atom. Jeremy Clarkson is a wanker, but he is entertaining.

For more affordable thrills with that pure, minimalist design philosophy, you'll have to get a motorcycle, maybe $4000 for a 250cc or $10000 for a 1000cc 170hp superbike.

I've ridden in the Elise and I can attest to the glue that keeps it stuck to the pavement while cornering, but for the life of me couldn't find it on the tires (tyres?) when I went looking for it...

Can it corner like this machine? Can it corner like this machine while getting the caloric equivalent of about 1,000 mpg?

The newest sensation is the tilting trike:

Now this is some elegant engineering!

Well, if there's a quick way to celebrate the Art of Driving Fast Cars and BTTW Filmmaking in one piece, it is probably this one! (Good luck on the Acronym)

You'll laugh, you'll wince. Some decent Dopamine given merely a cheezy midspeed DSL connection!

(Don't blink, this film gets delinked regularly. The Driver was arrested immediately.. such is the price of immortality!)

.. and as for beautiful machines, I heard once that every industrial designer in the world has had a picture of the Modest and Elegant DC-10 in their cubicle at some point or other.

..might have been the DC-9..

The event itself is a marvelous use for oil. Even at $100/gallon, it buys a lot of entertainment. And yet it uses so little that events like this could happen all the time. Top Tier stuff (NASCAR, Formula One) would probably still race even if fuel was $1000 a gallon, as compared to the other budget items, using $100,000 for fuel is still within reason. Custom tires for every track and weather condition cost thousands EACH, and teams go thru a hundred or more in a race weekend.

The travel by the spectators is the only potential waste.

Hi Jason thanks for the interesting article.

First post but been a lurker for a couple of years.

I must say that I know where you are coming from. I am in an unfortunate position in that I am a complete petrolhead, but I also am very keen on what we can do to help ourselves in the future.

I go to many motorsport events and I always drive to them, and many times I look at it and think how it cannot last forever. In reply to your questions:

1. Have you been able to move away from low DREI habits and replace them with high DREI ones? No

2. What experiences have you had like mine and John Jeavons’, being simultaneously awed and disgusted by the excesses of our world? I think I get this an awful lot. Working for an oil company is a place that helps with visibility of this, but also driving home from work, getting on a plane, putting my food in the fridge! Everything!

3. Why should I deprive myself of the great hedonistic pleasures of the age of oil if I can still afford them since very few others willingly curtail? Exactly, most people will not move away from this until forced to. Humans are proactive and lazy and thats how we got to where we are today.

4. Is information sufficient to change behavior, and if not, what does? Definitely not. I woke up to these issues a couple of years ago but I am amazed at how nobody else I know is concerned about what is going to happen in my (our) lifetimes! I feel like a doom mongerer.

5. I recognized very few faces at the truck pull, even though I live in a small town. What does this say about the cultural diversity of society and does that diversity make it more or less challenging to adapt to change? Petrolheads will travel far and wide to see the events they love - they dont have a huge hangup on using energy to get there or use it when there. I think it makes it more challenging as there could be less consensus, but at the same time they may all unite to overcome.

Thanks, Chris.

I think the only difference between this form of entertainment and most others that are popular in modern times is that you can see the fuel being burned. Suppose all the spectators had stayed home to watch a movie instead, and meanwhile the local power plant was burning way more fuel than a truck engine, just out of sight on some back road. Or, to take another example, suppose I decide to ride my bike down big hills for a "zero-carbon" thrill, meanwhile not seeing the blast furnace that burned coke to make the steel in the bike, all the presses, welders, mills, and lathes that built the parts, the truck that brought it from the factory, and so on. Even reading a book is suspect if you've seen the engines on logging equipment or smelled a paper mill. I'd say we have to consider not only the energy burned during the activity, but also the energy used to make any equipment or infrastructure needed for the activity.

My list of high DREI activities would probably include eating, singing, dancing, storytelling (and other forms of theater), combat (hopefully ritualized), and orgasm, which are all forms of entertainment our ancestors relied on for millenia. In my experience, the pleasure I actually get from these things is much higher than I tend to anticipate beforehand, but they do generally require participation by other people, and the rush is not often as concentrated as it is in, say, bungee jumping.

Sorry to be late - The last truck pull I saw was in a large indoor arena. Blew my ears out and I had to leave.

1. Have you been able to move away from low DREI habits and replace them with high DREI ones?

I am a sailor (Lasers & Thistles these days), hiker and interpretive naturalist as well as civic activist in my free time so I spend a lot of time in low DREI activities but I have to drive to get there, often farther than I'd like. And there's the sports... And the air travel...

2. What experiences have you had like mine and John Jeavons’, being simultaneously awed and disgusted by the excesses of our world?

Awed - Fighter jets - Stealth, FA 18's, F22's, A10 Warthog and my childhood favorite the F104 starfighter. Disgusted by the remote control death. Awed - The International Space Station. The Hubble Telescope.

3. Why should I deprive myself of the great hedonistic pleasures of the age of oil if I can still afford them since very few others willingly curtail?

Because my wife won't let me ;-)

4. Is information sufficient to change behavior, and if not, what does?

No. The urban legend about the stubborn warshipship's captain and the lighthouse is a good metaphore. Plus change is a process. I really appreciate Transition Movement's focus on transtheoretical change process. Like AA 12 steps, we are slow to move through the stages and steps and often relapse...sometines even if there is a lighthouse in our path. I know addicts that have run into the lighthouse multiple times. I know dead addicts, too. Peak oil, climate change and all the other concerns don't really manifest very severly in our world yet. Change will be a lot more rapid once something "kicks our ant hill."

5. I recognized very few faces at the truck pull, even though I live in a small town. What does this say about the cultural diversity of society and does that diversity make it more or less challenging to adapt to change?

I'm sure you spend as much time preaching to the choir as anyone. We hang out with those who are like us. To step out of the comfort zone (into another cultural realm) is hard. You have to start by finding common ground. Nice day! How 'bout that weekly petroleum report? ....Huh, Dude?

Who needs fossil fuels? It's time for you to get your high-torque electric car entered into some local competitions. Add sound effects if necessary. YEAH! That should make the 'dopes' happy.

Any unemployed gladiators hangin' around the Willits Coliseum?

1. Race bicycles. Plenty of endorphins! I attend NASCAR races to laugh uproarioulsy at the nuckleheads. Nothing like a good, hard, long laugh to raise your spirits!

2. I am only awed by the level of my disgust.

3. Only your and others' faulty working paradigm could lead you to describe torture as hedonism. I suggest counseling.

4. Timely information, maybe. It's too late for some.

5. Only a noisy, flaming engine can distract some from their televisions.

Get a life, bumpkins.

this is the longest thread i've ever seen. dunno y'all keep track

what i was gonna say was, re climate change vs peak oil and the 'what ifs'.

the two will equal out . we will quickly reduce co2 emmision when the peak arrives.

if 'man' has affected the climate in 200 years of burning oil , well the light is fading now as we burn the 2nd half, so the rate of reponse is decide for us.

I have discovered long distance walking which, perhaps counter-intuitively, is engrossing and at times exciting while minimising fossil fuel use. I have just finished the Pennine Way, a 270 mile trail across upland England for non UK readers.

Once alone on the moors (seen American Werewolf in London?) navigation, shelter, bogs, loose bulls, mist and bad weather are a daily challenge. Finishing yields a satisfying and enduring reward.

I have some reflections to share:

Walking is initially painfully slow compared with our usual methods of transport, but after a few days one's brain and senses seem to recalibrate and the pace feels right.

The slow change in scenery as one ambles along enhances perception - everything seems more vivid and details like a tiny flower or (rare) lizard stand out. I think this reflects the rate of input that our senses evolved to cope with.
By the end of the trip I felt liberated by the enforced separation from my car and pitied the harrassed drivers I met trying to find somewhere to park.

The route passes a lot of old mining areas. These are now only of archaeological interest, having been abandoned as unprofitable or exhausted many years ago. The oldest date back to prehistoric times but were only exploited to extinction in the last 200 years. Nature has reclaimed these sites which are the haunts of curlews and lapwings and of little or no value otherwise except perhaps for wind power.

Will all the Earth's finite surface be similarly exhausted in another 200 years?